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Who should Pellegrini start against Chelsea?

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Not a 'must win' game, but entering the realms of 'must not lose' with City heading to Stamford Bridge five points adrift and with questions over their recent form.

Both sides come into the game on the back of FA Cup exits at the hands of lower league opposition, but whereas City have had the week to rest up/ponder/stew over their defeat, Chelsea contested a hard fought Capital One Cup second-leg victory over Liverpool on Tuesday.

So, how does Manuel Pellegrini approach the game then? His time at the club does not indicate whatsoever that there will be an element of caution, let alone parking the bus. But with Yaya Toure again absent (and Wilfried Bony's debut continuing to be delayed) and Samir Nasri on the injured list how many options are realistically open to him?

One assumes the decision comes down to whether he deploys two strikers or goes with just one and (likely David Silva) a player in support. My guess is he goes with the extra midfielder, with Edin Dzeko's lack of minutes and Stevan Jovetic's lack of form swaying the decision. This is not without risk of course given the defensive midfield duo of Fernando and Fernandinho struggling to gel.

In defence, City have had problems of late with Vincent Kompany struggling to settle back into the line-up. Kompany, you would assume, is unlikely to be dropped so the question will be who partners him. Eliaquim Mangala, who looked so assured on his debut a few months ago or Martin Demichelis, who at present looks City's safest pair of hands in defence. Who'd have thought it?

How's this for the starting line-up then:

Joe Hart

Pablo Zabaleta-Vincent Kompany-Martin Demichelis-Gael Clichy


James Milner-Jesus Navas

David Silva

Sergio Aguero

Thoughts? And why not listen to me discuss the upcoming game with the guys over at The Treble Radio podcast (about 33 minutes in).